The Punjab and Haryana High Court has, while setting aside an order of the Additional Sessions Judge, Yamuna Nagar at Jagadhari, and restoring the order of the JMIC, has directed the state of Haryana to release a truck seized by the mining department in a matter of alleged illegal mining.
The petitioner, Irfan (owner of the truck), through his counsel advocate Gian Chand Shahpuri, approached the HC seeking quashing of the order of Additional Sessions Judge, Yamuna Nagar at Jagadhari, passed on March 13, whereby revision of the mining officer has been allowed and the vehicle (HR46 D 5925) which had been ordered to be released on superdari to the tune of Rs 20 lakh and surety in the like amount was set aside.
The vehicle was seized on January 15 by the mining officer on ground of illegal mining/transportation. The mining department had to recover fine, royalty and price of material loaded in the vehicle apart from recovery of at least 50 per cent of the show room value of the vehicle. Therefore, the vehicle along with the mineral was placed in custody of police authorities and was not to be released till further orders, while in the communication, it was further held that it is not an FIR case and it is a compoundable case and superdari was not to be allowed in view of the orders of the NGT.
The petitioner however filed an application at the JMIC court that the truck was loaded with bajri and having a bill of Himgiri Enterprises and was loaded from Ramgiri Enterprises, Kanalsi village, Yamunanagar district. The petitioner wanted to contest the challan and the vehicle was no more required and, thus, release was sought subject to disposal of the challan. The application was however contested by the mining department, and reliance was placed upon the order of the NGT that 50 per cent of the showroom value of the vehicle was to be deposited, whereas the driver had failed to produce any bill of the mineral and, therefore, it had been seized under sub-Rule 98 read with Section 104 of the Act, and fine has not been deposited in the government treasury. The magistrate (JMIC) thus held that genuineness of the bill was to be adjudicated upon filing of the complaint by the mining department and the proceedings and court had power as such to release the vehicle and it was open to them to file a complaint if the accused was found involved in illegal mining. The state mining department meanwhile during pendency of the petition before HC, also recommended lodging an FIR in the matter on October 5.
The HC bench of Justice G S Sandhawalia, after hearing the arguments, held that “…in the present facts and circumstances when the matter was pending before the revisional authority, there was no criminal proceedings initiated by respondent no. 2 (mining department) against the petitioner and, therefore, the court came to the conclusion that in the absence of the same, Section 451 Cr.P.C. was not invokable…”
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